Tennant Creek

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Tennant Creek
Northern Territory
Tennant-creek0116.jpg
Main Street Tennant Creek
Tennant Creek is located in Northern Territory
Tennant Creek
Tennant Creek
Coordinates 19°39′0″S 134°12′0″E / 19.65000°S 134.20000°E / -19.65000; 134.20000Coordinates: 19°39′0″S 134°12′0″E / 19.65000°S 134.20000°E / -19.65000; 134.20000
Population 3,062 (2011)[1]
Time zone ACST (UTC+9:30)
Location
LGA(s) Barkly Shire
Territory electorate(s) Barkly
Federal Division(s) Lingiari

Tennant Creek is a town located in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is the fifth largest town in the Northern Territory and it is located on the Stuart Highway, just south of the intersection with the western terminus of the Barkly Highway. At the 2011 census, Tennant Creek had a population of 3,062.[1] The Postcode of Tennant Creek is 0860.

Tennant Creek is approximately 1000 kilometres south of the territory capital, Darwin, and 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs. The town is named after a nearby watercourse of the same name. At the 2001 census, Tennant Creek had a population of 3,185, of which 1,176 identified themselves as indigenous.[2] Tennant Creek is near well-known attractions including the Devils Marbles, Mary Ann Dam, Battery Hill Mining Centre and the Nyinkka Nyunyu Culture Centre and is the hub of the sprawling Barkly Tableland, vast elevated plains of black soil with golden Mitchell grass, that cover more than 240,000 square kilometres.

The Barkly Tableland runs east from Tennant Creek towards the Queensland border and is among the most important cattle grazing areas in the Northern Territory. Roughly the same size as the United Kingdom or New Zealand, the region consists largely of open grass plains and some of the world’s largest cattle stations. It runs as far south as Barrow Creek, north above Elliott and west into the Tanami Desert.

The region encompasses the junction of two great highways, the Barkly and the Stuart, also known as the Overlander and Explorer’s Ways. The Overlander's Way (Barkly Highway) retraces the original route of early stockmen who drove their cattle from Queensland through the grazing lands in the Northern Territory.

Geography and climate[edit]

Climate

Tennant Creek is located in the middle of the Northern Territory, 376.5 metres above sea level. Average maximum temperatures range from 24 degrees to 38 degrees, with an average of 22 days per year exceeding 40 degrees. Minimum temperatures range from 12 degrees in winter to 25 degrees in the hotter months.

Most of the rain falls during the summer months, but occasional storms occur at other times of the year. Average annual rainfall is 473mm. The dry season (May to October) in Tennant Creek is relatively sunny with cool nights and mornings. The wet season (November to April) is hot and humid with occasional rainfall.[3]

Climate data for TENNANT CREEK (1969-2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 49.3
(120.7)
34.3
(93.7)
31.6
(88.9)
27.5
(81.5)
24.5
(76.1)
24.6
(76.3)
27.5
(81.5)
31.5
(88.7)
34.7
(94.5)
36.4
(97.5)
37.2
(99)
31.8
(89.2)
Average low °C (°F) 24.9
(76.8)
24.5
(76.1)
23.2
(73.8)
20.3
(68.5)
16.3
(61.3)
12.8
(55)
12.3
(54.1)
14.4
(57.9)
18.4
(65.1)
21.7
(71.1)
23.7
(74.7)
24.9
(76.8)
19.8
(67.6)
Precipitation mm (inches) 114.2
(4.496)
126.9
(4.996)
57.3
(2.256)
16.3
(0.642)
8.4
(0.331)
5.4
(0.213)
5.0
(0.197)
1.6
(0.063)
7.9
(0.311)
21.0
(0.827)
40.2
(1.583)
69.1
(2.72)
473.3
(18.634)
Source: [4]

Topography and climate[edit]

Although Tennant Creek has a warm desert climate (Köppen Classification BWh),[5] it still receives a sizeable 452 mm (17.8 in) of annual precipitation.[6] It also has distinct wet and dry seasons. Most rain falls during the period from December to March, when temperatures are also at their highest. Temperatures fall during the dry months with sunny days and mild nights. There is 9.1 to 10.4 hours of sunshine per day with an average of 155 clear days per year. Prevailing winds are from the east to south-east.

Built environment[edit]

Tennant Creek has developed from its rough, tough droving and gold mining days into a modern town with shops and a supermarket, accommodation, bars, clubs and restaurants, a regional hospital, schools and banking facilities.

Parks and gardens[edit]

Mary Ann Dam

Mary Ann Dam is a popular recreation spot, easily accessible from town by road or bicycle track and popular for swimming, barbecues, picnics or bush walks. The area’s best known attraction, Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek and is one of the Territory's most photographed features. These huge granite boulders are scattered through a wide, shallow valley. The formations provide shelter to a variety of flora and fauna of the area and glow a rich red in the light of the early evening. Local Aboriginal mythology holds that the boulders are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent.[citation needed] Visitors can take a self-guided walk from the car park. Bush camping facilities are available.

Another popular spot close to Tennant Creek is the Iytwelepenty / Davenport Ranges National Park, best explored by four-wheel-drive vehicle.

History[edit]

Telegraph Station - Tennant Creek
Buildings of the Overland Telegraph Station
Statue of Jack Noble

European history of this area began in 1860 when explorer John McDouall Stuart passed this way on his unsuccessful first attempt to cross the continent from South to North. He named a creek to the north of town after John Tennant, a financier of his expedition and a pastoralist from Port Lincoln, South Australia, in gratitude for the financial help Tennant had provided for Stuart's expeditions across Australia.

The Overland Telegraph that once linked Melbourne to London was constructed in the 1870s and forged a corridor through the middle of the continent that the Explorer’s Way and Ghan train now travel. A temporary building for a telegraph repeater station was erected near the watercourse of Tennant Creek in 1872. Two years later, the solid stone buildings of the Tennant Creek Overland Telegraph Station that remain on the site today, were completed by the occupants of the station. This is one of the four remaining original telegraph stations in Australia. Tennant Creek was the site of Australia’s last gold rush during the 1930s and at that time was the third-largest gold producer in Australia. The Tennant Creek Telegraph Station remained an isolated outpost until that time.

Mining in Tennant Creek was very hard work because Tennant Gold is found in Iron Ore.

Gold was discovered in the ranges three miles north of the current town area in 1926 by J Smith Roberts [7] In 1927 Charles Windley, a telegraph operator, found gold on what would become Tennant Creek's first mine, The Great Northern.[8] Australia's last great Gold Rush did not commence, however, until after Frank Juppurla, a local Indigenous man, took gold to telegraph operator Woody Woodruffe in December 1932.[9] The population quickly grew to about 600, 60 of whom were women and children.[10]"Battery Hill" which overlooks the town of Tennant Creek is the site of one of the last two operating ten-head stamp batteries, a Government owned ore crushing machine.

The town of Tennant Creek was located 12 km south of the watercourse because the Overland Telegraph Station had been allocated an 11 km reserve. Local legend offers a different explanation for the town's location. In 1934 Joe Kilgarriff from Alice Springs built the Tennant Creek hotel on the eastern side of the telegraph line . The pub still exists and is a historic monument to the early days.

Cecil Armstrong was one man who made a contribution to the early development of Tennant Creek. He arrived in April 1935 and began baking bread the next day. In 1937 he built Armstrong's bakery and cafe where he lived and worked for over twenty years as baker and cafe proprietor. The building still stands today, albeit under a different guise. Cecil's telephone number was simply the number 1 and his Post Office box was also number 1.

Another important contributor to Tennant life was Mrs Weaber, wife of the blind owner of the Rising Sun Mine, one the richest gold mines in the district before World War II. A devout Catholic, Mrs Weaber paid for the old church at Pine Creek to be transported to Tennant Creek plank by wooden plank. This beautiful building can still be found in Tennant Creek today. Mrs Weaber also started the Tennant Creek Christmas tree event when, in the early 1930s she held a party at her husband's gold mine and gave every child on the gold field a present. Mrs Weaber's generosity continues into the present day. Every year the town erects a public Christmas tree and every child, local or visitor, is given a present. The Weaber family left Tennant Creek in 1940 following a series of personal family tragedies. They sold the lease to what would become Tennant's richest post war mine, Noble's Nob, before they realised its potential.[11] Nobles Nob was named after Jack Noble, an old friend of the Weaber family from the days when they all lived in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia.

Gold Mining was all but shut down in Tennant Creek in 1942. The only mine to remain operational was a large mine with its own crushing plant.[12] During World War II, the Australian Army set up 55th Australian Camp Hospital near Tennant Creek. The Royal Australian Air Force utilised Tennant Creek Airfield as an emergency landing ground.

The town today is situated on a stretch of the Stuart Highway known as Paterson Street. As it is a regional centre, it contains government services and local business and also has a developing tourist centre. There are a number of restaurants and tourist activities to complement its friendly relaxed lifestyle. The people of Tennant Creek enjoy modern facilities including reserves, sporting venues, galleries, a civic hall and library. It's also home to Australia's premier go-karting event, held on a street circuit through the town.

Demographics[edit]

The total population of Tennant Creek is approximately 3500,[citation needed] of which around 1500 are Aboriginal. Tennant Creek is a multicultural community, with residents from Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, Philippines, India and Germany as well as Australia.

Government[edit]

Tennant Creek had a town council form of government headed by a mayor. Tennant Creek became part of the Barkly Shire Council on July 1, 2008.

The main Aboriginal body within the town is the Julalikari Council which plays a major role in providing training and employment services for the Aboriginal people in Tennant Creek. It has developed a construction capacity and provides contract services to the Town Council such as recycling. The Julalikari Council also provides community services within the township such as Homemakers, aged care, and the night patrol.

The police district covers almost 22,000 square kilometres and has a strength of 25 officers. The force includes two Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) officers.

Economy[edit]

Battery Hill Complex - daily mock up of gold pouring

Mining[edit]

Tennant Creek was once the third largest gold producer in Australia and is still highly productive. Over 210 tonnes of gold have been mined in the area. The Bootu Mine to the north of town exports manganese to China. Major mining companies are continuing to explore for bauxite, lead-zinc-silver and copper around the area. Exploration has commenced to the southeast of town for unspecified minerals. Tennant Creek is also the centre of the rich pastoral industry of central Australia, with vast cattle properties stocked with herds of Santa Gertrudis and Brahman cattle.

Phosphate deposits exist at Wonarah, 250 km to the east.

Tourism[edit]

Tourism is a growing industry emphasising its location, history, scenery and cultural attributes and provides tourists with an opportunity to experience the outback. The mineral collection at Battery Hill is a must see, although the stamp battery ceased working in 2005. The exhibition 'Freedom, Fortitude and Flies' in the social history museum at Battery Hill tells the story of mining in Tennant through the eyes of women and children. It was designed by award winning artist Alison Alder, a former Tennant Creek resident.

Washing bowl from 'Freedom, Fortitude and Flies' a social history exhibition

Aboriginal enterprise and organisations generate economic activity for Tennant Creek by providing a range of services to the urban and rural communities of the town.

Nyinkka Nyunyu Arts and Cultural Centre opened in July 2003, offering visitors and the community an opportunity to learn about aboriginal life, history and the land in the region. The centre promotes Arts and Cultural activities for the whole Barkly Region.

Transport[edit]

The Ghan

Tennant Creek has been accessible by train since the completion of the Adelaide-Darwin railway north from Alice Springs in 2004. The Ghan, run by Great Southern Railway between Adelaide and Darwin arrives twice weekly in each direction and can pick up and set down passengers on request.[13]

Preceding station   Great Southern Railway   Following station
towards Darwin
The Ghan
towards Adelaide

Tennant Creek is serviced by Tennant Creek Airport. Charter flights can be organised from Darwin or Alice Springs to Tennant Creek. Outback Airlines currently service Tennant Creek, providing mining charters between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek with seats available to the general public.

Tennant Creek has daily coach bus service from Darwin, Alice Springs, and Queensland. The Barkly Tablelands are best explored via Tennant Creek, which can be accessed on the fully sealed Explorer’s Way, 1,000 kilometres south of Darwin, 670 kilometres south of Katherine and 510 kilometres north of Alice Springs. The Overlander’s Way (Barkly Highway) is another tourism drive from Queensland that meets the Explorer’s Way at Threeways – 25 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.

In May 2005, Minemakers and ATEC signed an agreement to study a 250 km open access railway from Tennant Creek to Wonarah.[14]

Historically, and in 2009 there has been suggestion of a rail link between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa.[15] This link would allow resources companies to gain access to both the Adelaide-Darwin (The Ghan) and Townsville-Mount Isa (The Inlander) lines. The missing rail link would also provide rail passengers with direct rail access to Darwin from the East Coast of Australia. The Australian Defence Force may also use the link to provide a rail access between 1 Brigade (Armoured) in Darwin, and 3 Brigade (Infantry) in Townsville.[citation needed]

Education[edit]

Tennant Creek has a primary and high school. In the 1970s and 80s, secondary students tended to leave Tennant Creek and board at secondary schools in Darwin and Alice Springs, but today young people prefer to remain at schools in Tennant Creek.[citation needed]

Society and culture[edit]

Devils Marbles

Aboriginal people have lived in the Barkly region for over 40,000 years. The Barkly region is steeped in the ancient traditions and beliefs of its traditional custodians and around nine Aboriginal groups call the area home, including the Warumungu, Warlpiri, Kaytetye and Alyawarre people. Tennant Creek is an important social, cultural and business centre for many Aboriginal people of various language groups.

Leisure and entertainment[edit]

The Northern Territory holds several regional events throughout the year, which in some cases can impact on visitor numbers to the region. Events located within the Barkly Area during the year include the Desert Harmony Festival, the Barkly Campdraft and Rodeo, Saint Patrick’s Day Races, Barkly May Day Muster and the Brunette Downs Races. The World Solar Car Challenge takes place every second year.[16]

Music and Art[edit]

Tennant Creek has a rich and colourful musical community, and the Winanjjikari Music Centre home to a number of emerging singers, songwriters and musicians. In 2003 the award-winning Nyinkka Nyunyu Cultural Centre was opened, a purpose-built centre, planned and designed in close consultation with local Aboriginal people. The centre houses exhibitions on local history from an Aboriginal point of view, cultural displays and local artwork. It is considered one of the best of its kind in the Northern Territory, beautifully presented and maintained by the local people.

Sport[edit]

There are a number of sports and recreation clubs in Tennant Creek for locals.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Tennant Creek (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (9 March 2006). "Tennant Creek (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2001 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  3. ^ Tennant Creek' Climate
  4. ^ "Climate statistics for Tennant Creek". 
  5. ^ "World Map of Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification". University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. Retrieved 2008-12-30. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Climate Statistics for Australian Locations". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  7. ^ McKeon, MR, (consulting engineer) 'Tennant Creek Goldfield' in Chemical Engineering and Mining Review, 10 August 1940.
  8. ^ Pearce, Howard, Tennant Creek Historic Sites Study: A Report to the National Trust of Australia, Northern Territory Volume 2, December 1984.
  9. ^ Kelham, Megg Discovering Local History at the Battery Hill Mining Centre Collaborative Museums Education Project 2007 published on line by the Northern Territory Library at http://www.territorystories.nt.gov.au/handle/10070/238946
  10. ^ Kelham, Megg Discovering Local History at the Battery Hill Mining Centre Collaborative Museums Education Project 2007
  11. ^ Kelham, Megg "A Tennant Childhood: Kevan Weaber Remembers 1932 -1940" published on line at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTNFTOvavDw
  12. ^ Kelham, Megg A Very Short History of Tennant Creek from a Woman's Point of View 2012 published on line by the Northern Territory Library at http://www.territorystories.nt.gov.au/handle/10070/238944
  13. ^ Australian Railmaps, "RAIL MAP - PERTH to ADELAIDE, CENTRAL AND NORTHERN AUSTRALIA". Accessed 12 June 2007.
  14. ^ Railway Gazette International May 2009, p25
  15. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/10/05/2704961.htm
  16. ^ Tennant Creek Tourist information

External links[edit]